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Cell Phone Unlocking Bill – Expert Analysis of Why it Sucks

Posted by egzthunder1 February - 25 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

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We all remember the story on this one. It was our moment of triumph. The moment our collective voices were heard across the Capitol, which yielded a law nearly 2 years later. The glorious Cell Phone Unlocking Bill, finally came into full force in the beginning of February. As of now, it is perfectly legal to have your device SIM unlocked anywhere in the United States (that is, until the provision expires yet again towards the end of this year). There are so many things that went wrong into the creation of the current “patch” that it is difficult to pin point a place to start. Having said that, we will start with the obvious, which is what they should have done.

As you are likely aware, the provision that protects the right to unlock our devices is part of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). This was included in here due to it being believed that unlocking the SIM in a device would amount to violating IP rights on the software used to lock it in the first place. This was the reasoning used a few years ago to remove said exemption by the Librarian of Congress. Our compounded efforts ended up placing the exemption back in there. Why am I pointing this as a mistake? Because it should have not gone back in as part of the DMCA to begin with. This was the first step towards modernizing the laws in the United States and getting them adapted for the 21st century, which we have been part of for the last 15 years. The better course of action would have been to set it as a separate law, away from intellectual property jargon which has nothing to do with any of this, and properly set it as a stand alone law, away from the influence of people completely unqualified to judge the need (or lack thereof) for such a law. Surely, one can add provisions that are set to expire for many things, but why is there a need to set one up on being allowed to use personal, legally purchased goods, in any manner that we see fit (so as long as we are not breaking other laws, of course)?

Now, lets focus on the matter at hand. We have a “bill”, which is in full force. The bill basically is aimed at doing 3 things right now:

  1. Allows consumers to legally unlock the SIM card on their devices, thus allowing them to jump carriers while taking their devices with them;
  2. Makes the use of 3rd party software to achieve unlocking perfectly legal. Hooray! You no longer need to feel like you are looking to buy illegal drugs whenever you are going to unlock a phone;
  3. Forces the carriers to cooperate with you towards unlocking your devices.

 
Point #3 is the sticking point of this entire article. CTIA, which is an entity that is nothing but a special interest group (aka lobbyist) consisting of most carriers as well as a few handset manufacturers, put a metric ton of pressure while the crafting of the bill was taking place. The result is that even they had to do a few concessions in order to be able to have any say in the making of this bill. To be more precise, once the law went into full effect at the start of February, the carriers were supposed to take certain steps that would aid their consumers in the unlocking of their devices. Many of the carriers must have thought the law was fiction or some figment of their imagination because only one of them has done something to address everything in their to-do list, and that was Verizon (and it was forced due to them buying block C last year, which basically forced them to have every device on their network unlocked). The other 3 major US carriers lack in certain areas. Sina Khanifar, who was one of the major organizers of the original push for the legalization of SIM Unlocking, has written a blog article with a very detailed description of how each carrier fell short of the expectations. The following is a chart he made to summarize his findings

SIM Unlocking Chart

The scores are somewhat deceptive for Verizon and not really all that surprising for Sprint. For instance, (and I will take Sprint as I have a major pet peeve with their unlocking system due to personal experience), Sprint’s take on this entire thing is comical at best. While I am not going to bother in pasting the unintelligible dribble that is their unlocking policy into this post, I will condense it to the following:

  1. If the device you have is CDMA, there is no SIM unlocking due to a technological difference between CDMA and GSM;
  2. If your device is equipped with a SIM slot (namely any phone that has LTE), they will only unlock it for “international travel”, which means that they only unlock any bands that are not used in the US, despite the device having the bands required to work on other carriers;
  3. When an unlock is requested, they will go about giving you the “MSL”, which stands for Master Subsidy Lock. For those of you familiar with CDMA programming, the name might sounds familiar. For those of you who aren’t, the MSL is a code that unlocks the programming portion of the device. This allows carriers to push OTA programming to the device to set the carrier settings on the NV partition. Things like your phone number and your subscriber number get stored there. Now, you are likely asking yourselves why is this required for SIM unlocking the phone? The answer is, it isn’t. They simply will not unlock the SIM portion for domestic use;

 
Now, after the beginning of February, you’d expect that the aforementioned would be out the window, right? Well, it kinda is… but only for devices that have come out AFTER beginning of February of this year. In other words, if you jumped onto that shinny iPhone 6 Plus – 128 GB edition back in September, congratulations! The moment you decide to try and take it to a different carrier, you will be sporting a brand new device to match your iPod 6 Plus – 128 GB edition, as you will be unable to use it outside of Sprint (as they will not unlock it). Same goes for all you Nexus 6, G3, S5 adopters. Needless to say, most of these devices can be unlocked via other means (thankfully) but the point still stands. The carrier still has the upper hand and has far too much power when it comes to letting you unlock it, regardless of whether you have paid off your contract/balance on your device. Oh, and good luck trying to put an outside phone in Sprint’s network.

Each one of the major carriers has a different thing that makes you want to smash your face against the keyboard though. It is truly uncertain what will happen later this year when the provision expires yet again. However, we ask that you write to your Congressmen and let them know that the fight for your cellular freedom is not over and that you as a consumer have a right to do as you please with things that you legally purchased. We still have about 75 years left before the turn of the century. Who knows? We might get it right sometime…

You can find the rest of the blog article by following this link.

We’d like to give a big shout to Sina Khanifar. Keep on fighting the good fight!

The post Cell Phone Unlocking Bill – Expert Analysis of Why it Sucks appeared first on xda-developers.

Here’s a neat trick which lets you capture 50MP photos from your OnePlus One

Posted by wicked February - 17 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

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The OnePlus One is a pretty stellar device for the cost that it’s available for. And a new camera mod lets users get even more out of the device with minimal work. Thanks to a bunch of keen developers over at the XDA Forums, the OnePlus One can now take 50-megapixel photos using image interpolation tech.

This was debuted in the Oppo Find 7 and Find 7a, so it’s a feature from Oppo’s proprietary Color OS ROM. These developers have simply ported the app to work with CyanogenMod 11S, thus making it compatible with the OnePlus One.

In addition to offering 50-megapixel photos, the camera app also comes with features like HDR video recording, slow-mo video, burst shot and a lot more. So if you own a OnePlus One and would like to get more out of your smartphone’s camera, head over to the link below for more details.

Source: XDA
Via: Phone Arena

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Root achieved for Sony Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact with locked bootloader

Posted by wicked January - 25 - 2015 - Sunday Comments Off

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Owners of Sony Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact Android handsets that have a locked bootloader, it is your lucky day. At least, it is if you’ve been hoping to root your device.

A clever dev over at the XDA-Forums has scored himself a touch of bounty for working out the xploit. Sorry… exploit. The method is not intended for the international Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact devices, which come with unlockable bootloaders, and are rather easily tinkered with by the AOSP and ROM enthusiasts. Nor is it for the Verizon variants with modified hardware. Instead, the exploit is for markets like the U.S. where carriers tend to lock things down.

Let’s not beat around the bush here, with Android Lollipop set to release for Sony hardware soon, You are likely better off waiting for the OTA before rooting. Also, this is not an easy process. Right off the bat, up to date firmware is not compatible, so you’ll need to first roll back to version 23.0.1.A.5.77. From there, it is a matter of simply creating a pre-rooted version of the phone’s hardware, flash a recovery image for your model, then apply the root exploit itself.

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XDA user zxz0O0 is who you have to thank for bringing root to your locked Sony Xperia Z3 or Xperia Z3 Compact. He’s been known to bring exploit and similar tools to the forums and will take home at least a part of the current $3017 bounty available for breaking the lock on Sony gear.

Head on over to the XDA post on the matter to get all the resources and instructions to root your Sony Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact handsets.

Will you go for root on your Xperia Z3 or Xperia Z3 Compact?

Screen Mode app takes new angle on accessing your smartphone screen

Posted by wicked January - 15 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

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One of the bigger annoyances all smartphone users deal with is getting access to the screen as quickly and easily as possible. Possibly in a perfect world, we might all leave our screens on all the time so a mere glance would reveal all we expect to see. In the real world though, that would lead to some very short periods of time in between battery charging. So, a variety of measures have been enacted to turn our screens off and only show limited notifications in an effort conserve battery life. However, that also means going through the trouble of turning a device back on to use it. The new Screen Mode app from XDA Senior Member Meko07 hopes to address this situation.

To help ease the process of turning a smartphone screen back on, device manufacturers have looked for a variety of innovative methods. LG has their Knock On system that just requires a couple taps of the screen and Motorola implemented methods so a wave of the hand will turn on a screen. Meko07 decided to use a different tactic though, relying on a smartphone’s sensors to detect the angle of the device and turning the screen on based on that. In addition to unlocking and locking the screen based on the angle, the app also adjusts the screen’s brightness.

This could be a good solution for owners of devices that do not have a quick way to unlock their screen or just want an easier way to adjust the brightness. The Screen Mode app is free, so if you want to give it a try, just hit the Play Store links below.

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Google Play Download Link

 

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[New App] Wear GoPro Remote lets you control your GoPro with your smartwatch

Posted by wicked January - 15 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

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Are you an adventure enthusiast or simply have a GoPro device at your disposal? You will be pleased to know that you can now control this nifty gadget right from your wrist using the Wear GoPro Remote app for Android Wear.

The app doesn’t seem to be available on the Google Play Store, so you will have to download the apk directly from XDA. It allows deep controls for users including the ability to turn on the GoPro device, change camera mode, frame rate or even locate the GoPro device if it goes missing.

Here are some of the essential features listed out by the developer:

  • Change camera mode (Video, Photo, Burst, Time lapse)
  • Change video resolution and frame rate.a
  • Change Time lapse interval.
  • Fire shutter to take pictures, start/stop video and see a small preview of the picture taken.
  • Fire shutter by shaking your hand (Great for selfies).
  • Image gallery to browse images on Camera.
  • Set basic settings like Spot Meter, Beep volume, Upside down, LEDs.
  • Locate camera.
  • Power off/on camera.

Click here to view the embedded video.

This is a relatively new app, so the developer urges users to pass on feedback about any glitches or errors that needs fixing. We’re keeping our fingers crossed to have this app hit the Play Store soon and we don’t think we’ll have to wait much longer. You can download the Wear GoPro Remote for your Android Wear device here.

Via: XDA Forums

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XDA LG Development Challenge Winners

Posted by wicked December - 28 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

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Almost 3 months ago, we set out with LG to find two amazing apps that developers could put together using LG’s QPair SDK. That contest came to a close last Friday, and while there were some really great entries that took the QPair SDK and stretched it to its limits, the two winners for the Grand Prize have been selected as explained in the Contest Rules.

The XDA LG Developer Challenge was a 8-week competition, and each person had the opportunity to pitch their proposal for the best app and bring it to life with a LG device of their own. Of the 10 proposals that we selected for the second phase, the developers of the best two apps have been selected and they will both receive a LG G Watch R to to further their development opportunities!

There were a lot of really great entries to the second phase of the competition, and all of them deserve a quick download! Check out the complete list of apps and watch faces that were made during the competition.

Without further ado, here are the winners of the XDA LG Developer Challenge (in no particular order):

We and LG thank each and every one of the entrants, and hope that they will continue to be involved and create new and exciting applications with the LG QPair SDK and for Android devices in general.

The post XDA LG Development Challenge Winners appeared first on xda-developers.

PS4 Remote Play port working on Android 4.2 devices, no root required

Posted by wicked December - 16 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

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Sony’s PS4 Remote Play streaming app is a great piece of software for gamers, but the company’s choice to lock the app to its own Xperia smartphone range means that quite a few people are missing out. Fortunately, XDA member TheScriptKitty has created an APK that will port that the Remote Play app to non-Sony smartphones and tablets.

The port apparently supports any Android KitKat (4.4+) device. You can check a list of tested compatible handsets and tablets here. Some users are also reporting that the app works with Android 4.2 and 4.3 handsets too, so it might be worth a try even on older smartphones and tablets.

The latest version of the port.apk (V0.61) removes connection speed and WiFi checks, allowing you to connect to your PS4 over slower connections and potentially even your data connection, providing that your network is fast enough. Despite the removal of these checks, a 5GHz router is still recommended.

Root permission is not required to install the application, although you will need to root if you want to install the DualShockManager for your controller. Here is the most up to date installation method using the latest apk:

  1. Download and install RemotePlayPortV0.6.1.apk (if you have a previous version installed run “adb uninstall com.playstation.remoteplay” first.)
  2. (Optional) Download and Install DualShockManager.apk
    1. Move APK into ‘/system/app/’ and change permissions to RW-R-R
    2. Reboot

There are a couple of other, older methods you can also try in the official forum post. If you are having trouble connecting up your DualShock controller, there are a couple of workaround methods also mentioned in the thread. Lollipop users are also reporting some success with the apk, but you will need to forward ports TCP 9295, TCP 9293, and UDP 9296-9297 on your router.

We quite enjoyed our time using Sony’s game controller mount and Remote Play app, and it’s good to see more people having a blast with in-home streaming. If you try this method out, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

Calendar Events Notifier App Will Pester You Until It’s Acknowledged

Posted by wicked December - 15 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

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I can recall very specific calendar events that I missed because the notification disappeared on my phone. This problem happened more often when I got an Android Wear smartwatch because I flicked through my notifications too quickly.

Now, thanks to XDA developer Bartito, you can get bugged to death until you acknowledge that yes, you do have a doctor’s appointment today.

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The app is Calendar Events Notifier. It works by reading your notifications, which you will need to grant permission to the app in your notification settings, registering that it is a calendar event and, based on what you have selected in the Calendar Events Notifier app, will trigger a recurring notification that must be specifically dismissed.

As if that’s not good enough, this app is also compatible with Android Wear. So your recurring-notification should show up as a card on your watch.

The developer only mentions syncing with Google calendar, so if you use a different calendar, it’s unclear if the app will work with that.

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Google Play Download Link

 

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Non-Sony Android devices get access to Sony PS4 Remote Play thanks to new port

Posted by wicked September - 23 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

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When Sony announced their new Xperia Z3 smartphones during IFA 2014, one of the new features included was PS4 Remote Play. This new feature meant owners of the new devices could use their Sony smartphones as a second screen for the their Sony PS4 gaming platform. Even better than that, users could continue to play PS4 titles remotely on their mobile device. This was some great news for gamers who had PlayStation 4 devices if they were going to invest in a new Sony smartphone. Unfortunately, a Sony spokesperson said the company had “no intent to bring remote play to any device other than Xperia” meaning a lot of PlayStation 4 owners would miss out on the feature. That may have changed now thanks to a new port developed by XDA member XperiaPlaystation who has figured out how to get it working with a much larger population of Android devices.

According to XperiaPlaystation, the ported app should work with Android devices running at least Android 4.0 or newer. Users do have to install CWM (ClockWorkMod) Recovery, then flash a ZIP file, follow a couple other steps to clean up the device, and then install the APK file. Oddly enough, owners of a Sony Xperia Z1 have an additional step related to changing their build.prop in order to get the ported app to work.

If you have a PlayStation 4 and want to give the PS4 Remote Play app a try and you are willing to do some work on your device, hit the source link below for more detailed instructions and links to the appropriate files.

source: XDA Forum

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SunShine BootLoader Unlock tool launches for Motorola and HTC smartphones

Posted by wicked September - 23 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

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Thanks to a new application designed and coded by TeamAndIRC, a loyal member of the XDA Developer forums, Android users can now automatically unlock the bootloader on a bunch of Motorola and HTC branded smartphones from 2013.

Getting started is super easy. All you have to do is visit the download thread over on XDA, pay the service registration fee of $25 (which will be refunded if it does not work), install the Sunshine Bootloader Unlock on your device, and open it up. Then hit the start button and watch your bootloader unlock right in front of your eyes.

The full list of SunShine compatible devices can be seen below:

  • Motorola Moto X
  • Droid Maxx/Ultra/Mini
  • Motorola G
  • HTC One Mini M4
  • HTC One M7
  • HTC One M8
  • HTC One E8
  • HTC J Butteryfly
  • HTC One X (Evita)

Motorola devices should already be rooted. The app will try to obtain temporary root if not, but does warn that it could be unstable.

Please note that unlocking your bootloader completely voids your smartphones warranty, but, in return, does provide you with more control over your device and removes any restrictions that the manufacturer may have integrated into the software when designing the unit.

To download ShineShine BootLoader Unlock on your device — click the source link below, but do make sure you read the full details and warnings before proceeding.

Source: XDA
Via: Android Headlines

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